How to Choose the Right Marketing Agency

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4 min read

So, you’re in the market for a new automotive digital marketing agency for your dealership!  With all the choices out there, it can be overwhelming to say the least. It seems like everyone has similar capabilities, but it’s important to be able to spot the differences.

How can you tell which agency is the best choice for your dealership?  Downloading our 2019 Comparison Checklist is a great place to start. In addition, here’s a list of questions to ask yourself and your prospective agency to make sure you’re getting the most out of your choice.

     1. What do you like and dislike about your current agency?

When venturing into unknown territory, its best to understand known territory first.  What does your current agency do well that you like?  Is it their style of reporting?  Do you like the creative department’s ability to capture your vision precisely?  Is it the relationship you’ve built with their Account Executive and Account Managers? 

What do they do that you dislike?  Are they late with projects?  Does it seem like they are always just missing the creative vision that you’ve laid out for them?  Are they a distant company that you wish you heard from more?

To answer these questions, come up with a concise list of pros and cons of your current agency, and compare it to the agencies you’re interviewing.  Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side but knowing exactly where you came from will help you escape to greener pastures. 

     2. Which certifications does the agency carry?

In the digital marketing world, there are tons of certifications and programs available to marketers to improve their skills and flaunt their knowledge.  Which ones are important to your dealership?

At a minimum, we recommend an automotive digital advertising agency to have Google Ads and Google Analytics certifications.   While this does not guarantee that the agency will be competent with either of these Google products, it shows that they put forth the effort to attain them and are interested in keeping their staff up to date with the latest information on these core advertising products.

     3. Do they have any case studies or samples of work for similar dealerships to yours?

Every dealership is in a unique position in the market and deserves a unique sales and marketing plan to help them maximize their monthly sales and market dominance.  What works for a Toyota dealer in Lincoln, Nebraska wouldn’t work for a Mercedes-Benz dealer in Manhattan, New York, and vice versa.

When looking at samples of work from prospective agencies, try to look for clues about where the dealership is located, what brand of vehicles they sell, what problems and issues they were facing, and what solutions the agency in question implemented to solve them.  The closer the case study matches your current situation, the better it can be used to evaluate the agency.

     4. Are they experienced with automotive co-op and advertising guidelines?

Co-op advertising is an exceptional benefit for dealers if it is used to its maximum potential, however, it can be difficult to navigate at times.  Each manufacturer has different sets of rules, regulations, and guidelines dealers have to adhere to if they are going to receive their advertising dollars.  If campaigns are run or submitted inappropriately, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars in media that you thought was covered by your co-op funds.

How familiar are your prospective agencies with your manufacturer’s guidelines?  Do they offer co-op submission as a service?  If they do, it can take a fair bit of work off your plate, and free your time up to focus on what you should be focusing on: selling cars.

 5. What is the average age of their accounts?

Client turnover is something that happens in the advertising world, and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. All good things must come to an end because we don’t live and work in a static environment.   Times change, business objectives evolve, and turnover happens.  In fact, you’re part of that process right now!

Keeping that in mind, it’s a good idea to find out the average age of a prospective agency’s clients as a good indicator of their staying power and the quality of customer service they provide.  It also gives you a concrete metric to compare agencies with one another.

     6. What is their average turn around time for new campaigns and creative?

This is an important one if you like to operate your advertising strategy in an agile manner.  The automotive business moves very quickly, and to stay ahead of the curve, on the fly adjustments are a must.  Price changes to keep up with competitors require creative updates, and quick synchronization across all platforms.  How quickly and accurately an agency can turn this work around is a huge factor in how effective they can be.

     7. What kind of experience do they have in your shoes?

Nobody quite understands the car business like someone who’s worked in the car business.  While almost any digital agency can crunch data and manage campaigns by the numbers, sometimes it takes more than that to excel at advertising for car dealerships

When your agency understands the ups and downs of the day to day in the dealership, it can create a certain synergy that sets you up for success.

      8. What is your expected outcome of switching agencies?

This question is an important culmination of the questions above and brings everything full circle.  Just what do you expect to gain from switching agencies?  Are your expectations clearly defined and realistic?  Is it perhaps more leads?  Are you looking for more sales? Would you like greater flexibility and agility with campaigns?  Better quality traffic?  Do you want tasks like co-op submission and management taken off your hands?

If you clearly define your expectations for yourself and communicate them clearly to your new agency, you’ll set yourself up for success and avoid the disappointment of wasted time and money.

Sometimes, the grass really is greener on the other side, but it always pays to ask the right questions to make sure it is before hopping over the fence. If you feel like you’re ready to start checking out agencies, download our 2019 Comparison Checklist for a detailed list of what your agency should cover!

If you need some additional assistance choosing a digital marketing agency, or feel Digital to Dealer might be a good fit for you, reach out to Mike Byrne at MByrne@digital2dealer.com. We are happy to help you navigate the agency waters in any capacity. 

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